Part of this post is personal, part of this post is sharing of resources. Sunday we met with our dear niece who is a senior in high school and will be the first in her family to go to college. The only other person in her extended family to go to college is her uncle, who happens to be my husband. We talk about his experiences quite often and they reinforce the research we read about the experiences of first generation college students. A high school teacher in his small, rural town had attended an ivy league school. She knew the importance of a college education for my husband as it would change the trajectory of his life from 5th generation logger to where he is today. As we are talking with his niece, she is facing alot of the same barriers, hurdles and naysayers. Luckily she has her eye on the prize- she is going no matter what barriers, hurdles and naysayers stand in her path. I am so proud of her strength, maturity and awareness.
However, we had to have a very difficult conversation about finances. She worked very hard to gain admission to a small, private liberal arts college. It was a great decision on her part since we talked alot about institutional fit and finding the ideal campus for learning. Her rationale for institutional fit is perfect and the campus she has selected does seem to meet all her needs. But, it also comes with the hefty bill of a small, private liberal arts college. It will be impossible for her to attend because she has limited access to loans, her family has no financial means to support her, and it would be impossible for her to have the money to attend. The decision was a heart breaker. Her greatest college dream was smashed into pieces. Now we are picking them back up and will forge on to a new dream. I distinctly remember her comment, “but I worked so hard to get my IB degree and do everything right.”
She will go to college. She will be successful. She will achieve her dreams.
This was certainly a slap of reality for all of us. Things that we knew in the back of our minds and were privileged to escape for a moment came racing to the forefront. The impact that class, gender, race, ethnicity and capital have on us every day. I put a call out on Twitter on Sunday “anyone know of a book or good readings for parents of first gen college students? #sachat”
The use of #sachat proved invaluable again. Here are the resources that were graciously shared with me.
Limbo shared by @triciabrand, Making the Most of College shared by @debhammacher, The Happiest Kid on Campus shared by @debsanborn, Confessions of a College Freshman shared by @nestrada89
First in the Family shared by @tbump
Please comment below on the following questions:
– How can you use this information to inform your work?
– What can you do to remove barriers, forge new paths and support first generation college students and their families on your campus?
– What resources can you share with others?